On a field trip to the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park, students went to the very heart of the Apennine Mountains going from Rome's sea level to an altitude of more than 4,900 feet or 1,500 meters.
“It is the largest natural reserve in Italy, and comprises unique habitats, historic towns, and touristic destinations,” said Professor Rafael B. de Andrade who teaches natural sciences as part of the general education curriculum.
At the park, which is three hours away from Rome, the students were hosted by experts Dr. Daniele di Santo and Dr. Sabina Burrascano who took them along forest trails and grasslands. They had the opportunity to learn and experience concepts approached in class, from mountain formation to climate and biomes. They also learned about the national park projects on forest management and sustainability.
The all-day excursion was part of the Physical Geography class which teaches students about the physical forces that shape the planet, from tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes, to oceans, climate, and weather. Topics are contextualized within the human perspective, covering the effects of world population to climate change.
About the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park
The park is one of the largest protected areas in Europe, and is centered around the massif of the Gran Sasso, which dominates the surrounding landscape; it rises vertically on the immense pastures of the Campo Imperatore. The land is very rocky and receives a large amount of snow and wind. The Calderone lies just beneath the tallest peak, the Corno Grande, and it is considered to be Europe's southernmost glacier. On the north side there is the profile of Monti della Laga chain, where thousands of migratory birds stop on the shores of Lake Campotosto. This area is completely covered by woods of beeches, firs, turkey oaks and chestnuts. There are over 200 kilometres (120 mi) of dedicated horse trails that can be used to visit the park.
The park contains one of the most biologically diverse areas of Europe. The climate is between that of the Mediterranean and that of the rest of continental Europe. The park contains more than two thousand plant species, some of which are found exclusively in this area, such as the Abruzzo Edelweiss. Many species of wildlife inhabit the park, including rare animals such as the Abruzzo chamois, as well as wolves, Marsican brown bear, roe deer, wildcats, wild boars, foxes, and squirrels. Notable birds include the golden eagle, the white-backed woodpecker, the goshawk, the common buzzard, and the peregrine falcon. There are also a wide variety of insects, such as the Apollo butterfly.